Bye Bye Pasties, Hello Pasta

It’s now been one week, four hours, eleven minutes and fourteen seconds since I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The previous post was an immediate reaction to the diagnosis and reading it back today I still get a sense of the huge mix of emotions going through my head at the time…..anger (some) disappointment (lots) and relief (yes, a little).

So how’s it gone? Well the good news is I’ve lost weight. At least a third of a stone. My scales no longer shout out ‘no coach parties please’.  I know this may be hard to understand but I feel lighter. Am I playing mindgames with myself? Perhaps its my brain readjusting to the new way of life and sending me positive messages to stop me jumping over a cliff, or even worse, supersizing at Burger King.

So how have I done it? Willpower.

From day one I knew I had to do the job properly to get the desired results. Three glasses of wine (home measures) a night have been savagely reduced to three sensible sized glasses a week. This has had a profound effect on the weekly shop. I fear staff in ASDA think I may have died. Perhaps they’re organising flowers. Can I eat flowers? I’m certainly hungry enough to try. White lillies in a granary bap? Now you’re talking.

Water consumption has rocketed. I now pee like a horse and am thinking of having a small TV and some good books installed in the bathroom.  I spend  more time in there than any other room.  I was pruning roses at the weekend and pricked my hands several times. I half expected to turn into a new and exciting fountain attraction. The village is crying out for one. I reckon I’d look quite spectacular at night illuminated by coloured lights.  People could throw coins into my mouth.

The biggest change in my lifestyle has been a draconian no snacks ban.  I’ve always viewed the three meals rule as a hugely flexible format for getting through a day. So grazing had to end. And it has. I find this incredibly difficult, particularly as I work from home. Biscuits play an important part in commerce and my deskspace has been adapted to cope with a ‘biscuit space’.  Well you try compiling a VAT return without 14 Ginger Nuts.

No more. It has all had to end. I managed to get through the Easter weekend without eating any chocolate. A huge achievement considering they were everywhere. I feel very proud.

The wheels nearly came off a couple of days ago though. I found myself with an hour to kill on a retail park. Standard norms and practices would have seen me poke about a couple of stores, meander into McDonalds or Costa with a newspaper and an appetite and while away the time with coffee and provisions. That was then. Despite intense hunger pangs (only those who have them will ever know) and having to actually go into McDonalds to use the toilet, I had to resort to extreme measure to stop eating. I took myself into the Staples office supplies superstore and forced myself to spend 45 minutes going  up and down every aisle looking at every item. And so to the staff who constantly approached a slightly edgy, irritable, drooling Scot in the photocopier aisle gnawing his arm, I apologise.

And so the days pass by. A  new lifestyle,  family support, hideous diet pills and willpower bordering on manic obsession is a potent mix. So far I’m doing OK. Am back at the doc on Monday. It’ll be two weeks since I was diagnosed. Perhaps we’ll celebrate with a party.

As in life I’ll leave the last words in this week’s blog to my dear wife:

“Does all this mean you get a disabled parking space?”

And That, As They Say, Is That

Well bugger me with a fishfork. I’m diabetic.

So the health check (see previous post) wasn’t a waste of time after all. The doctor did indeed want a chat but the usual small talk about football and the weather was snuffed out within the first minute and we were down to business. I knew something was up. He had his serious face on. “We’ve got your results back and there’s something we need to talk about”.

I just stared at him. A thousand things go through your head. Well they would wouldn’t they. Perhaps the tests had picked up my proposed voting intentions for the election and he wanted to convince me Cameron wasn’t such a good idea.

In the way that modern doctors do, he turned his computer monitor towards me and pointed at some data. I nodded and uttered the odd “hmmmmmm” and even an “I see at one stage” . But I wasn’t really taking it in.

“So……” he looked up “there are enough clues to indicate……” 

WHAT????

“Type 2 diabetes”

To be honest I think I knew something was wrong. My slightly high blood sugar level at last year’s health check; occasional numbness in feet and hands; late night Galaxy comfort eating; slight trembling while cutting the grass and rushing indoors to devour anything (but mostly bananas and chocolate) as quickly as possible to feed the sugar lust of my bloodstream. 

The rest of the consultation was a bit of a blur. There was talk of more blood tests; feet checks; opticians; diet pills. Looking back (and it was only three days ago) I still cannot remember too much about it.

And so I emerged from the surgery into the car park a different man. I was officially ill. Not that ill. It’s not cancer for the love of God. But for this jug eared Jock who’s enjoyed the high life for 45 years it was quite enough for the  moment thankyou very much.

I had such conflicting emotions. On the one hand I was glad something potentially harmful had been spotted and could now be dealt with. On the other hand there was the horrific and numbing feeling that life was not going to be the same again. Ever.

For a few minutes I just sat in the car and felt very very lonely. Now I know how young mums feel when they are ejected from the maternity hospital into the cold and windy outside world with their new arrival. You leave a building with something you didn’t have when you went in. It was a very strange emotion.

I arrived home with the ‘everything you need to know about diabetes’ party pack of leaflets and pills. I sat at the kitchen table and put the kettle on. And then it started to kick on. My God could I still drink coffee? What about semi skimmed milk? What should I eat and drink from now on? My instant reaction was a mix of confusion and caution. I read all the information, took none of it in and tried to read it again. I went on the diabetes.org.uk website. I found the search box and typed in ‘miserable middle aged Scot needs comfort and reassurance’ but it drew a blank. Damn.

So what’s the fallout of all this? Well I have to lose weight (14 stone to 13 stone) and fast. I am taking diet pills called Orlistat. They look very pretty and are a charming duck egg blue colour. That beauty is matched by the sheer horror of what they do to your body with side effects so hideous I cannot reveal them in a family blog.

A new lifestyle is what’s needed. Some fine tuning of the diet; some major tuning of alcohol and on it goes. For life. There is no cure.

If I have to do something I do it properly so I have taken to the new way of living with enthusiasm and gusto. I am already losing weight and that is by cutting down on the ale and those naughty but nice  in-between meal snacks. You would be amazed how they add up.

All in all I’m feeling OK now. One day at a time and all that. Support from my wife will be critical to all of this. She considers it a wake up call for us both. So far I’m losing weight quicker than she is and that’s not going down too well. Let battle commence!

Oh there is some good news. As the son of Yorkshire/Scottish parents saving the odd penny here and there is in my genetic make up. Therefore I was delighted to hear that prescriptions will be free from now on. Every cloud….

So if our paths do cross you’ll not see any real difference. I may be slightly thinner, resist that second pint and when it comes to that enormous portion of sticky toffee pudding and whipped cream I’ll quietly decline and be found gently sobbing in a dark room.

More on this eye-opening and revelatory journey to follow as and when. You may be interested to know that it’s National Diabetes Week on June 13. For once I won’t throw the leaflet in the bin. You shouldn’t either.